Lightening Ridge: one pub at a time.

The day started with a walk around the corner to a lovely country cafe with lashings of bacon and farm fresh eggs. Nothing like a country style breakfast.

After breakfast the team split! The boys went in the direction of Boomi in search of the pub. It’s about half an hour from Goondiwindi and is a tiny town but has a great pub.

The girls stayed behind to boost the economy. I had spied some lovely bamboo deck chairs in a lovely parrot print. I had to check them out!

Main Street browsing in a country town is always a treat. Everyone seems friendly, there are things you don’t see at other places – in the city, and it doesn’t take too long.

Like Inverell from a few weeks ago Gundi, as it’s known here has a good feeling. The shops are attractive, the street scape is well cared for and the Art Deco buildings add character.

We did our best to spend a $$$. Jill bought black pants, Helen a dress and I got those deck chairs. I bought the set. They are lovely !

The chairs squeezed into the boot and off we went. We headed towards Weengallon on h’way 85. We’d been told by the dress shop owner that the community had held a fundraiser lunch there for the 5th year in a row to raise funds for breast and prostrate cancer. Over 500 attended. It sounded like a wonderful community event.

Weengallon consists of a lovely church and hall and not much more. The ladies (and men I presume) travel from km away to attend. I’d love to go but apparently it sells out in an hour!

Along the 85 we drove, anticipating our arrival at the Nindigully Pub. It’s quite famous. In a recent episode of Back Roads it featured mostly because it’s an amazing outback pub which serves up the worlds biggest hamburger. It’s as big as a pizza, costs $60 and sadly for us takes 2hrs to prepare. We didn’t order ahead so no big burger.

We did enjoy the meals we had though. Smaller burgers! And steak sandwiches. And the atmosphere of the pub first serving drinks in 1864.

The indoor dining room.

We enjoyed a beer and explored the pub both indoors and out. It’s a fascinating part of Australian history. And obviously very popular with travellers and the grey Nomads (retired older people who travel Australia in caravans)

After lunch we headed into Thallon. It’s become a tourist stop – (again seen on Back Roads) for its big Wombat and it’s painted silos. The wombat is hugh and has footholds up one side to encourage climbers. Such fun.

The silos are beautiful. They stand proudly against a blue sky and are just so Australian.

I have to share this joke at Thallon’s expense. Our friend Helen’s daughter sent a message saying ‘Nice place you’re in – is there a beauty thallon, hair thallon or maybe a nail thallon! ‘ ūüėā

Back into the cars we drove in convoy to our next stop.

The Hebel Hotel. This journey is becoming a pub crawl. And why not. There are some excellent pubs! This one is again not really part of a town. It’s a destination.

We had a drink – —drivers not enjoying a beer ūüėĘ but able to enjoy the challenge of a game of darts.

Aware that the afternoon was passing and wanting to avoid the kamikaze kangaroos we tackled the last half hour into Lightening Ridge.

Driving into the Ridge we faced the population sign. Instead of a number it just had a ?

Anybody’s guess. People definitely come and go from the town as they try their luck finding opals. Especially the Black Opal.

The art around town is fun

We checked into our motel and had a drink as we were so dry! Then decided to drive to the ‘Night Sky Spectacular. ‘

It was 3 km out of town following the yellow car doors. Only problem, it was dark, we couldn’t see the car doors in the trees (a substitute for arrows) it was pitch dark. So we were late. It had rained a little so the show was moved into a shed. We crept in and watched a 30 min film about Lightening Ridge and fossicking for opals. Sadly no Night Sky Spectacular tonight!

Looking forward to fossicking tomorrow.

Eating: Restaurants in Seminyak Bali.

I’ve heard so much about the restaurants in Bali I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

There are great restaurants all over the world. Having just been to New York we experienced some really good food but it’s very expensive. Cuba wasn’t expensive but then again it wasn’t too exciting.

Italy is one country where I never get tired of the food. It’s regional, fresh and you can eat out well, without breaking the bank.

Bali has a range of food – from inexpensive street food to higher end cuisine from other parts of the world.

We tried a few different places and I’ll try and capture each one as they were different but memorable.

Try one if you want a good eating experience. Mind you everyone has different expectations- but to me – a bit of a traveller and one who likes food they were great.

Night 1: La Lucciola

La Lucciola

Area: Seminyak

Jl. Petitenget

We arrived via a little wooden bridge after passing through the car park of the Petitenget Temple. It has a beautiful setting by the beach. It’s like a tropical house with wide verandas overlooking the grass into the beach.

The menu is primarily Italian with a slight Asian twist.

We shared a few entrees always a good way to start a meal. The stuffed zucchini flowers, the smoothest burrata, some antipasto. Main course we chose our own. Being gluten intolerant I had the yellow fin tuna which was delicious others had heavenly soft house made pasta with king prawns a touch of chilli.

They were lovely to the children who loved their pasta.

For 5 adults and 2 children several cocktails, a bottle of Italian wine, sparkling water, shared entrees, 5 main courses and 3 desserts it was just under $400 Australian.

Night Two was a Denise’ birthday, so her choice was a restaurant just out of Seminyak but easily reached by taxi: Slippery Stone.

Jalan Batu Belig No 9

This was a Greek restaurant and it looked like we’d arrived in Greece.

It would be good for groups, has a fire show and a lovely outdoor setting.

The food is typical Greek food but very well done.

Night Three was Sarong:

Jalan Petitenget No 19.

This was more theatrical. Dark ( in fact so dark they give you a little light to read the menu!) , moody, beautiful decor and menu of Indian fusion. It’s a share food type of place. We started with some absolutely beautiful tuna betel leaf, delicious dumplings then some shared plates: saag curry, spiced octopus, butter chicken and beef rendang. All delicious.

Night 3: Barbacoa

Jl. Petitenget No 14

The fusion food here is designed to share. Though I love sharing I sometimes think I end up with too many flavours.

They had a good kids menu as well. We started with a bite each – I had a tiny fish taco. Bite sized and delicious.

Others had roasted corn, a dumpling,

Then we shared a beautiful piece of beef with a green sauce. The dishes ‘from the garden’ were wonderful. A spiced toasted cauliflower dish, green beans with anchovy butter and garlic, eggplant roasted,

Desserts were sensational. The nitrogen ice cream was prepared st the table and thrilled the children. The creme br√Ľl√©e just right and my dessert cocktail – limoncello finished with Italian meringue.

Night 4: Bikini or You look Hot in a Bikini

Jl. Kayu Cendana, near Seminyak mall.

This is a little show stopper. Very creative. Very cheeky and fun.

And a menu to match.

It can be shared or ordered individually.

Exquisite small plates like works of art.

We had a crispy salt & pepper kale crisp! Yum. Satay. Clever and tasty, crispy eggplant Рto die for, glazed beetroot, whipped feat and candied hazelnuts. Yumo beautiful barramundi with apple purée, beef rib w artichoke and glazed chicken. All wow.

Night 6 : Potato Head Beach Club

Jl Petitenget 51B

FUN! This is a true beach club where in the afternoon the bikini is almost the dress code. But not for us and it didn’t matter.

Go in time for a few drinks at sunset. Book a large flat bed. Or swim in the pool.

This is more a fun drinking kind of place but the food is still good. We set up on a big lounge area, the children played , the adults people watched and the sunset was amazing. If you enjoy a bit of a show and like to see party people in action this is for you. It’s off Petitenget road by the water with a huge swimming pool and swim up bar.

The menu has various sections from burgers to Indonesian selections to a little little Italian. There are different kitchens around the huge complex. I like it because it’s table or lounge service.

There’s a gelato shack and the music is cool. Just chill there for awhile

Brunch at W Hotel

For more sophisticated eating try the W Hotel famous Sunday Brunch in their Starfish Bloo restaurant. By the huge pool it a great place to spend some time eating, drinking and swimming.

It’s an amazing buffet with one big decision. With or without alcohol!

So get into the eating in Seminyak Bali. Have you got a favourite place? Please share it in the comments.

Mt Agung holds us in Bali

If you have to be held hostage somewhere Bali isn’t a bad place to be.

We’ve spent the day just lounging in a cabana by the pool. With the pool in front and green lawn and the beach behind it’s pretty good.

There has been a little to and fro from the reception trying to organise rooms in case we had to stay another night.

So it seems the Qantas flight is going tonight ( or early tomorrow) at 12.30am. This is a surprise to us as the Virgin crew flying with me to Brisbane have been partying by the pool all day and said ‘if we don’t fly then Qantas won’t ‘ seems she was wrong!

So I’ll be here alone night and tomorrow after they all leave the hotel at 9.30 pm. Then the dreaded overnight flight.

The kids have been in and out of the pool all day. Great fun.

We had a little walk along the beach and chatted to a few locals offering manicures, massage and a chat!

So people who come to Bali should not complain if they get held up here due to volcanic activity. The airlines don’t like it , the locals don’t like it, but there’s nothing you can do.

There is no insurance to cover the hold up, so plan for it or perhaps don’t come to Bali.

Safe travels everyone.

Passing Time in Bali

It’s amazing how time passes when you’re not doing much!

Bali is super relaxed.

A day goes like this:

Wake up when a 3 year old Zali or 4 year old Jack appear at the bedroom door. Chat in bed. Share a story or play a game.

Prepare for breakfast- walk to the restaurant. Share the delicious breakfast and the chat, the hat swapping and some games.

Back to the villa for a swim and playing games together.

Then have a walk to another area we haven’t explored . Catch a buggy to the gate or for exercise walk! Walk!

The streets aren’t the easiest places to walk so we manoeuvre the ups and downs of the pavements which have a gold star in a red square every few metres.

Today we walked and explored the W hotel by the beach. It’s beautifully done – from the tree lined drive way

to the restaurant with a lovely pool area. Just right for a G&T!

The graffiti/ street art livens up the buildings

We usually have a sleep in the afternoon before heading out for dinner.

Last night we went to Bikini.

What a great restaurant. I’ll do a whole separate post on the restaurants we visited.

Tonight we walked down a long drive to Potato Head Beach Club. What a scene! It’s a great place to relax with a drink and watch the sun set.

We sat on the lounges near the pool. The dress seemed to be Bikinis ūüĎô. The smaller the better. But we maintained our standard and dressed up, not down!

We watched the sunset with a cocktail in our hand and talked about the great week we’ve had together.

There was a large sculpture at the entrance which depicted the waste all salvaged along the shores of Bali’s west coast. 5,000 thongs or flip flops as they are known in some countries!

Another lovely day.

Tomorrow we pack and leave late at night.

From the High Line to the Beach.

This morning we allowed ourselves a little sleep in. Walking in this big city is hard work.

We had coffee and made our way to the start of the High Line. We thought we’d call into the Whitney Museum – but it was closed. So as we waited for our friends to arrive we watched the passing parade.

Even in this big city people like their dogs. All types of people were out walking and it was difficult to walk the street. There are some very big dogs living in what I’m sure are quite small apartments.

Bill and Betty arrived, the weather was perfect and we set off. Thank goodness dogs aren’t allowed on the Highline. It’s crowded enough without dodging leashes.

It’s a really pleasant walk, although our New York friends are not as embracing about its existence. They were a little against all the fundraising with locals to get something that is essentially for tourists. But I loved it.

It’s interesting to walk along above street level and see some of the great buildings in the city. New York is constantly changing ¬†some amazing new building designs.

You may be able to see the sign behind Bill. It’s about Galapagos where we all met!

The gardens, as you walk along the curved and angled walkways are quite beautiful. We spoke to a few volunteers, including a mum with her young baby strapped to her.  Where would the world be without volunteers?

There are apartment blocks sitting next to the walk track. How could you relax with so many people nearby? Thank good it is closed at dusk!

This amazing apartment block was designed by British architect Zara Hadid. 

The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail. It was created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan in New York.

 

By now it was warm and Betty and Bill were the only keen swim trekkers ready to have a swim. So off to Brighton beach near Coney Island.

It was quite a trek, but troopers Lynn and Lois drove us out through Brooklyn to the beach.

I can only imagine how crowded it gets in summer.

We found a carpark and made it past all the Russian restaurants filled with Russians eating and drinking. You could forgiven for thinking it was St Petersburg.

The beach is wide and the sand almost white. There were a few walkers and mums and bubs. But no swimmers. Bill and Betty braved the cool water and in they went.

Coney Island in the background.

They swam for about 15 mins and the current was super strong. What champions.

By the time we left the beach storm clouds had gathered and we knew we needed to get back to Manhattan. Lois (who is over 79!) drove us back. The rain poured, the thunder rumbled , the wind blew and Lois chattered like there was no problem. It got crowded on the road and about an hour later we arrived back at our air bnb. Exhausted.

An hour or so to recover and off to dinner with Jordan and Rob to Carbone at a very up market Italian restaurant.

GuessWho!

A lovely night with the newlyweds.

Morning walk in Santa Barbara

It’s Anzac Day in Santa Barbara and as usual Steve led the ceremony.

Then it was a walk through the streets before the sun came out.

It was quiet and the architecture was interesting.

There is an enormous Moreton Bay fig tree brought as a seedling by a sailor in 1876. Read the story below.

We found an amazing house in a back street – it helps that John Donati was born here and knows Santa Barbara so well.

Back to the hotel where the lobby had become a meeting point for our guests arriving. This morning the Brannocks and nephew George arrived tired but ready to go to lunch.

Therapy lunch had its own post but after lunch we wandered the picturesque streets if Santa Barbara.

Come along!

Live turtles in the fountain!

This plaque to Orella is Jordan’s great, great, great, great grandmother.

We finished the walk with a visit to a beauty salon where Antonio gave us eye lifting treatments. It was an hilarious half hour and worth the sales pitch he made. Here I am up close!

You be the judge. Have the bags under the eyes decreased! No before photo though.

The Countdown is On.

Who out there enjoys packing for a holiday? I usually do but feel quite rushed / confused / perplexed this time! Why?

We’re not swim trekking like our usual holidays have been lately. On swims treks the packing is easy. It’s usually summer and relaxed. This time it’s a wedding in Santa Barbara, California! Then 3 different locations. New Orleans, Cuba and New York!

I’m trying to stick to my own packing rules ( check out an earlier blog). Pack in 3’s. 3 bottoms, 3 tops, 3 dresses, 3 scarves, 3 shoes. Then add the ‘wedding gear’.

I’ll let you know how I go! It’s going in the suitcase this afternoon. It‚Äôs a new bag and is a larger carry on! So I‚Äôm limited on the space! Wish me luck.

I’ve also had to reload this website and don’t want you to miss my blogs. So please send a message in the comments box so I know you’ve seen this post.

Did I mention it’s my son’s wedding! So I am to be a MOG. Mother of the Groom.

Last Day in the Village. 

Woke late to the sounds in the Mairie outside my window. Today was spring cleaning day in the Place.

The Council were having their meeting today at 11 and there was action in the space in front. This happens to be the space in front of the Brannock’ s house.

There were sweepers sweeping and waterers watering and Policemen coming and going from the Council Offices in the Mairie.


I took the opportunity to put my head inside this Council  building that always seems so closed up. It was rather lovely.

 

Staircase inside the Council’s Mairie building.

Susanna, the fun lady who manages the Brannocks house for the group of owners, happens to be on the council, so had asked could she call in for a chat before the meeting.

Margaret and I went for coffee beforehand at the lovely cafe opposite. It’s such a special little place and holds special memories as I’ve eaten there each visit I’ve had and love the little outdoor terrace.


It’s the cafe behind the flags!

I wanted to wander the streets of the village one last ( well almost last) time.

I saw so many things this morning , afternoon and evening. You would love it.

We walked down past Bar Marigny and  saw the crowd that hang out there. They nodded. Or called Bojour as  we we passed by.  We went to a little shop at the end  of town near the Happy Tree Рwhich has the cutest felt stars hanging in it.

More stalls appeared. Different every evening.


The little boutique has lot of clothes and there was ¬†a mother with three daughters trying things on and looking great in everything. There are quite a few Norwegians and Swedish staying in the area. In fact someone commented that they are ‘very big and take up lots of space in the cafes in their big groups ¬†with lots ¬†of children!’

Margaret and I descended to the cave below with its cushions,  lamps,, bolts of fabric,  glassware, beads and a cupboard of clothes, Tout Р 50%.  That sounded good. So after much wriggling in the little dressing room I bought a lovely mustard  linen top.


Back out side we walked along the Grand Rue,  past Mirabeau where I bought some wine to thank John  and Margaret for  having me and to wish them a happy joint70. They have friends arriving in Sept for a cruise then a stay in Cotignac to celebrate.

Then it was a general wander and observation of the locals and the tourists. This village is beautiful and it’s becoming a little seasonal with the tourists. It’s a shame for the locals if they find the work so seasonal they have to move away in winter.


We sat in a  cafe by the four seasons fountain and watched a drama  unfold.

A young woman driving a small car suddenly stopped and jumped out. Her large dong sitting on the front seat saw a likely playmate. Another big dog. So he leapt out of the window.

She left the car, ¬†with about 5 people waiting patiently behind ¬†her and took off after the dog. He was in dog heaven. Now he had two playmates. He chased the dog and she chased him. There were calls from the crowds , waves from all, ¬† until a young man grabbed her dog. She carried him back to her car – now really blocking the narrow street and dumped him in the front seat. She hurried around to the drivers side to calls of ‘ wind your window up!’ She did, she waved and drove off with the dog looking out from his view on the front seat. Drama over.

 

Sitting by the 4 seasons fountain

We saw tables being put along on the road then realised the road was to be closed. There must be a party tonight. We’ll have to come back.

After siesta we moved our aperitif hour to outside the house. It’s a great spot to watch the world go by or to catch up with neighbours as we did.

 

NEGHBOURS,, English couple Peter and Lyn

We just had to go back to the Grand Rue later that evening to check out the events. And there  they were,  dancing in the streets. There was a disc jockey spinning lots of favourites and the dances moved from line dancing to waltzing to swing to modern bopping and the old favourite YMCA. Young, old, big and small. All together. It was such a festive occasion.

Even the gorgeous dark haired girl from the cafe Рwith the  amazing smile , got up and danced with her mum between serving drinks.


It gave a taste of summer in a village. It was great fun.

Try and get here I can promise you’d love it.

To Market. To Market. French style

If there are any better markets than a French one,  I have yet to see and visit it.

I’ve been to markets all over the world, but I do think there is something special ¬†about a French Market. I really love them.

Is the basket that everyone seems to carry? Including me. Thank you Margaret.


If you don’t own one you can quickly buy one.


Perhaps it’s the colourful umbrellas providing shade as you move around.


Or the cafes to help rehydrate?  People drink Rose here like its a soft drink!


Perhaps it’s the stall owners? They are busy but friendly.

 

Carpe Diem

Or maybe it’s ¬†the music wafting around as you browse the stalls.


Or the fruit and veg ? That rockmelon smells fresh and delicious. And tastes so sweet and juicy.

Or the heavenly  smelling fresh bread.

Or the beautiful French girls waiting on the thirsty.


There is something for everyone. This man was showing the young girl how to use the bow and arrow!


The variety of stalls gets me in every time


I think it’s a combination of all the above, plus the personalities of those selling their goods.

Whatever it is, it works. The markets were packed but there was room for all and lots of smiles.

Perfect to buy all your ingredients for a beautiful salad lunch washed down with a Provence Rose.

Life is sweet.